rtoemember. there's more information on our website, foxnews.com/propertyman. we'll see you next week. [ woman vocalizing ] >> a wild west pioneer... >> there's a saying, "the cowards didn't come." so you had to be brave. >> he truly was the john wayne of the 19th century. >> he leaves behind a trunk of relics... and a classic, woven into the fabric of america itself. >> there was a pair of old blue jeans in here. >> what'd they look like? >> they said that they were the oldest unworn pair they had ever seen. >> that's unbelievable. >> so are the lengths to which folks go for vintage old denim. >> finding any levi's pre-1900 is a massive rarity. that's the holy grail. >> what do you think they're worth? ♪ [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ]
[ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] ♪ >> i'm jamie colby in tucson, arizona. wagon trains used to pass right through here on their way to california during the gold rush, and one of the rough-and-ready pioneers who helped settle this area left behind a very strange inheritance. i'm here to get the skinny on it. >> my name's jock taylor. in 2009, i inherited a wooden trunk full of family heirlooms going back more than a century. now i'm told i could pocket a small fortune. >> i meet jock, a 60-year-old electrical engineer, at his home here in tucson. >> hi, i'm jamie. >> i'm jock. >> i heard you have something very unusual from your great-great grandfather. >> i certainly do. come on in. >> jock shows me that inheritance -- an old trunk that's been passed down through the family for more
than a century. >> the trunk contained the family bible, a very ornate saddle blanket, a pair of old jeans -- >> jeans? who keeps jeans? >> they've been in the trunk for so long, i don't think that my mother really knew what else to do with them. >> according to family lore, all the items in the tru including the jeans, once belonged to this man, jock's great-great grandfather, solomon warner, one of tucson's original pioneers. >> very distinguished. >> old solomon's story, and the story of those dungarees, begins far from tucson in upstate new york, where he's born in 1811. as a young man, he heads west, in search of adventure and wealth. >> a lot of farm boys or small-town boys in new york couldn't wait to get away from home. >> jim turner has written several books on the history of arizona and its important pioneers like solomon warner.
>> he worked on steamboats in the 1830s, and then he went to the gold rush. after that, he went to south america, looking for gold there. >> but the gold thing doesn't pan out. solomon returns to america in 1853, still searching for a way to strike it rich. the following year, the united states completes the gadsden purchase from mexico, adding nearly 30,000 square miles, including tucson, along our southern border. solomon sees a new frontier to be conquered. >> what makes pioneer status? >> the willing to risk. there's a saying, "the cowards didn't come," and so you had to be brave to come out to the frontier. >> a big, powerful man, 6'1/2" tall, solomon hauls 13 mules loaded with merchandise into the new territory and opens a general store in tucson, then just a small town
of less than 1,000 people. >> he was the first to sell american goods in tucson. >> who were his customers? >> the butterfield stage came through tucson, and whatever you wanted, you had to buy it from solomon warner. >> as the town grows, so do warner's riches, but his business interests are interrupted when civil war breaks out in 1861. >> tucson was under the confederacy and captain sherod hunter asked all of the citizens to swear an oath to the confederacy. >> what about solomon warner? was he game? >> he wouldn't do it, and when he wouldn't do it, they confiscated all of his goods. >> solomon retreats to mexico, then returns to tucson after the war to reclaim his store. but another kind of bloodshed breaks out along his trade routes. this is, after all, the wild, wild west. >> was that an easy thing to do in those days, getting goods back and forth? >> it was dangerous. >> several times, he had been shot by arrows from indians
when he was bringing dry goods back and forth. >> sounds like a hollywood character in the making. >> it was amazing that not only did he survive apache attacks, he lived to be 89. >> when solomon dies in 1899, tucson's in mourning. >> there was a great ceremony because he was a revered citizen at that time. >> after solomon's death, his son, john, packs up some of his father's belongings into a trunk that bears the family name, and over the years, the cedar chest gets handed down through the generations. >> john solomon warner, when he passed away, it went to his only daughter, josefina, and then everything that she had went to my mother, elva. >> why has the family held on to it? >> it's an heirloom. my mother always used it for storing ancient family relics. she was very proud of it. >> the trunk stays in elva's living room until she passes away in 2009.
then her son jock, one of four heirs, moves the crate to his home and takes an inventory of its contents, including those old blue jeans. >> what'd they look like? >> they were very weird jeans. they didn't have belt loops, and they only had one pocket on the back. they looked like a pair of old blue jeans that had been washed once and then folded and put away. >> weren't they worn out? >> they are in like-new condition. >> like brand-new? >> like brand-new. >> and on the back of those spotless jeans, a famous marking. >> they had the leather patch on the back that said levi's on them. >> that's right -- levi's, the most iconic blue jeans of all time. >> did you just take the jeans out of the trunk and try them on? >> actually, they're way too big for me. they come up almost to my chest. >> jock assumes jeans that big probably belonged to old solomon.
but he can't say for sure what went into and came out of that chest in the 110 years since his great-great grandpa's death. >> any proof of purchase? >> not that i know of. >> a picture of him wearing them? >> no. >> you sure it's not just family lore? >> i don't know. >> what could they be worth? a bundle, says this prospector, who actually mines for ancient blue jeans. >> true vintage denim can be worth thousands of dollars. >> for a reason you might not expect. >> all the earlier jeans that they had went up in smoke. >> that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question... the answer after the break. dear predictable, there's no other way to say this. it's over. i've found a permanent escape from monotony.
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>> he had that pioneer spirit. he saw the opportunity here, and he could see that the city had potential to grow. >> inside that trunk is a pair of vintage levi's blue jeans. >> so, they were pretty ratty? >> no, they actually were very well-preserved. it's cedar, and it protected the jeans very well. >> if they're indeed solomon's from way back when, the jeans are also a remarkably well-preserved relic of a completely different pioneer success story. mike harris, author of "jeans of the old west," knows all about that. >> how did this whole levi boom start? >> well, in 1870, jacob davis, who was a tailor in reno, nevada, he was approached by a woman who was married to a woodcutter. >> turns out that her woodcutter husband constantly rips through his pants pocket. it's a common problem. whether concealing a pistol or hauling heavy gold nuggets, the weak pockets just can't
handle the stress. >> so jacob davis gets the idea. he saw the rivets on his workbench, and he decided to put those in the pocket corners. >> adding rivets to pockets -- it's one of those seat-of-the-pants innovations that make america great. the result? stronger dungarees that can stand up to the tough work thrown at them by the miners and laborers of the day. >> and after about a year, he was getting so many orders, he couldn't fill them. >> davis, who needs capital and manpower, goes into business with wealthy san francisco merchant levi strauss. on may 20, 1873, american blue jeans are born. a pair costs about a buck. levi's markets their denim overalls as the uniform of the working class. >> who bought them at the time? >> miners in the west, farmers, mechanics -- anybody that did hard labor would have bought levi's back then.
>> that's because workers love how tough and durable the pants are, as this pair from 1890 proves. >> from the 1800s? i mean, they feel like they could be right now. they really could withstand a lot. >> absolutely. >> so it was all about strength? >> it was all about strength. >> now, here's something really important to remember in this "strange inheritance" tale. in 1906, the epic san francisco earthquake devastates the levi's headquarters... >> their building, it was completely leveled. >> ...along with all of levi's records and inventory. the first 30 years of the company's history -- gone. of course, for the next century and more, the company thrives. indeed, the pants it manufactures become an american icon. think about it. is there anything the world loves more about america than blue jeans? they're right up there with blockbuster movies, fast-food burgers, and rock 'n' roll.
so you probably aren't surprised there's a demand for vintage jeans. but i bet you would be surprised how far some people will go to meet that demand. >> true vintage denim can be worth thousands of dollars, and finding any levi's pre-1900 is a massive rarity. that's the holy grail. that's what we're all looking for. >> brit eaton is a modern-day prospector who scours old west barns, ghost towns, and mining sites -- not for precious metals, but antique overalls. >> my gold is what the gold miners were wearing while they were seeking their gold. in order to be a great denim hunter, you have to be ruthless, relentless, and rugged. i've rappelled into pits, i've killed rattlesnakes to get by. there are so many potential dangers. >> exploring abandoned mineshafts can be treacherous, but often worth the risk. >> finding things in mines is the equivalent of big-game hunting.
you find a time capsule just sitting there in the middle of nowhere. the feeling of seeking something is a true american sort of pioneer feeling. you're literally filling a gap in in history. >> and that's a good way to pose the question facing our heir, jock taylor. does his strange inheritance fill a gap in history, or are they closer to the jeans that fill the gap at the mall? >> they were in such great shape that i thought, "why are they showing me new jeans?" >> stay tuned for "p.s.i." -- pants seam investigation -- next. >> here's another quiz question for you... the answer when we return.
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every branch running like headquarters. that's how you outmaneuver. [ wind howls ] >> so, who said, "i had holes in my jeans well before it was fashionable"? it's "b," kenny rogers, who "knew when to fold them." >> a cedar box inherited by jock taylor of tucson, arizona, contains a cache of old family heirlooms that he assumes have been sitting in the trunk since his great-great grandfather solomon warner passed away in 1899... including this curious item -- a pair of seemingly never-worn levi's jeans. >> how many years do you think those jeans may have been in that trunk? >> in excess of 110 years. >> so jock and his wife, pat, take the levi's to a traveling appraisal show here in town with high expectations. they walk up to the table of daniel buck soules, owner
of daniel buck auctions. >> they had a pillowcase, and i had no idea what they had. and when they pulled out these jeans, they were in such great shape that i thought, "why are they showing me new jeans?" >> so, you were suspicious at first? >> oh, absolutely. but it wasn't until i really started looking at them that i went, "okay, these are a little bit better than i think they are." >> just how much better? daniel's detective work begins with the obvious -- these belong in the big-and-tall depart length, 37. >> he had to be 6'6", 6'8". he was a mountain of a man. >> next, he examines the leather tag. >> does this identify the jean in some way? >> it does. they started adding this around 1886, but they still use that. even to today, it's still there. >> that sets the base. the jeans are no older than 1886, but they could have been made any time after that. so daniel turns his attention
to those famous pocket rivets. >> one of the problems they actually had was the placement of the rivets. if you were a cowboy and on a saddle, the outside rivets would wear on saddles. what you find is they had to cover these with cloth at one point. >> those covered rivets first appear in 1937, but jock's are exposed, meaning the overalls are at least older than world war ii. daniel searches the waistline for more clues. >> there's no belt loops. >> there's no belt loops because of the fact at this time, they only had suspenders, and it wasn't until 1922 that they actually added the belt loops. >> we're back to the roaring twenties, and the pockets reveal one more thread to the story. >> when levi's first started manufacturing jeans, you had the two front pockets and the single back pocket, and this other pocket, which is for change or a pocket watch. and it wasn't until around 1901 they added the fifth pocket in the back. >> which is missing on jock's
jeans. so now we've narrowed it down to that 15-year window between '86 and '01. finally, daniel spots a stamp on the inside of the pocket that helps age the overalls all the way to 1893. jeans historian mike harris is amazed. >> how unique is this pair? >> to find an 1893 pair of levi -- very scarce. this could be one of two examples known, so it's very rare. if one shows up, then it's quite valuable. >> and to find an 1893 pair inperfectcondition? unheard of. so how much cash could jock expect for his strange inheritance? >> size really does matter when it comes to vintage levi's. >> find out next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website, strangeinheritance.com.
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>> now back to "strange inheritance." >> jock taylor is one of four heirs to inherit this pair of antique levi's jeans, authenticated by daniel soules to be from 1893. so, what are they worth? >> $10,000? >> keep going. >> $20,000? >> and more. >> the reason's not just that there are vintage blue-jean collectors around the world. it's also because of the levi-strauss company itself, whose headquarters were destroyed in the 1906 san francisco earthquake, along with the archives of their early denim. >> are they trying to get these historic jeans back? >> they actually are. so when a good pair of jeans do come on the market, they are out there trying to purchase them. the last pair of blue jeans that sold from the 1880s, it's my understanding that levi's paid six figures for them. >> a hundred thou for an old pair of jeans? jock reaches out to levi's.
>> they said that they were probably the oldest unworn pair of levi's they had ever seen. >> and jock says they offer him $50,000 for them. it's a lot of dough, but the family's expecting more. they discuss it, then turn down the offer. >> if levi strauss is valuing a ripped-up, torn pair that's maybe a year or two older at $100,000, i would think that a pair that's never been worn from the same era would be at least worth that much. >> so jock tells auctioneer daniel soules to set a date to sell great-great grandpa's pants to the highest bidder. >> it's a risk, that's true, but when you consider that it's the only unworn pair of blue jeans of that era, i think, yeah, it's a one-of-a-kind item. >> i think the most they could possibly get from a collector is $40,000. >> denim hunter brit eaton believes jock and his family are thinking too big for their britches. >> the vintage denim market
is incredibly volatile. i think if levi strauss is willing to pay $50,000 for them, take the money and run. >> is he right? november 5, 2016 is the date we're to find out. then, just before the levi's go up on the block, daniel postpones the sale due to technical glitches. a few days later, he's talking to a buyer from japan, but the jeans are not a good fit. >> at 44 waist and 37 length, the jeans were too big for them. they were planning on purchasing them to wear. so that deal fell through. it was very depressing. >> size really does matter when it comes to vintage levi's. if it's either too little or too big, it's going to be harder to establish a value, or just not as valuable. >> levi's would not comment on any negotiations with jock, but we do know he has at least one sizable offer very much on the table. >> there's absolutely a market for jock's levi's. i personally would be willing
to pay $35,000 for them. i'll make that mark in blood right now if you want. >> what would ol' solomon warner do? jock's pretty sure his great-great granddaddy would tell him to sit tight. he's positive the frontier merchant is somewhere off in the sunset, grinning. >> for him to know that his jeans that he left after his passing were worth $50,000, i think he would think the world has gone crazy. >> now, that's some tailor-made "close" from an heir not only left big shoes to fill, but a big pair of pants to boot. >> everybody has a pair of their favorite super-comfortable, worn-out jeans, right? these are mine. i can't believe i'm wearing them on a shoot, but i wonder what old levi strauss would think of clothing stores selling pre-ripped denim, often at two or three times the cost of a pristine pair. what's up with kids these days -- too lazy to wear out their own jeans?
i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> dad had a talent. >> there's nobody out there who does what he did. he was just that good. >> but it's lost on his son. >> when you're 16 or 17 years old, the last thing you're worried about is your dad up in a building, building models. >> this strange inheritance ultimately brings them together. >> when his father was alive, he did not want larry to touch them, and i can only imagine what he's thinking now. >> how would you describe this inheritance? >> a little bit more of a journey than i was prepared for. >> so, is it time to take a new tack? >> i know you've said, larry, that you'd never seriously considered selling, but now that you hear this... ♪
[ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] i'm jamie colby, and today i'm driving into the oldest settlement in louisiana. it's called natchitoches. it's rich in southern charm and civil war history. battles raged nearby, both along and on the red river. well, that history inspired one man's remarkable craftsmanship. but it left his son wondering what the heck to do with all the crafts. >> my name is larry atteridge. in 2008, my father passed away and left behind his life's work -- a massive fleet of amazingly detailed model ships he built from scratch. >> hi, larry. i'm jamie. >> well, hi, jamie. nice to meet you. >> great to meet you. thanks for inviting me deep into louisiana. it sure is pretty. >> well, i've got a lot to show
you. come this way. >> larry invites me in to see some of his father's civil war ships. this is one cool viewer submission. which one is that? >> this is the eastport, which was on the red river here in natchitoches parish. it was one of the largest ironclads of the civil war. it was 280 foot long, and it weighed 770 tons. >> with the civil war, i first think of great armies clashing at gettysburg, shiloh, and antietam, not naval battles. but that's the story these miniature vessels tell. when war between the states breaks out in 1861, union general winfield scott creates the anaconda plan. the idea -- blockade southern ports, take control of the mississippi, and, like a huge snake, squeeze the south into submission. the union builds a navy of more than 600 ships.
>> they would commandeer boats from people -- ferry boats, paddle-wheelers, anything that floated and they could put a gun on it. >> larry's father, william, made models of many of them. there's the c.s.s. gaines, a wooden side-wheel confederate gunboat built in mobile, alabama. there's the u.s.s. vicksburg and the c.s.s. alabama -- a massive propeller-driven ship built in secrecy in england for the confederacy. all are made precisely to scale. 1 inch here translates to 8 feet on the real vessel. where did this all begin? did dad buy a book on ship building? >> i don't remember anybody ever teaching him how to do this. it's just something you have to be born with. >> william atteridge jr. is born in 1929 in highland park, illinois, a suburb of chicago.
from an early age, he's fascinated by the ships he sees on lake michigan and dreams of one day setting sail. in 1951, during the korean war, william joins the navy and travels the pacific on the u.s.s. valley forge. the 22-year-old specializes in cosmetic maintenance, doing the detail work. >> the "45" that you see on the u.s.s. valley forge, he was one of the guys that painted the numbers on the aircraft carrier he was on. >> william is honorably discharged in 1955, returns home, gets married, and starts a family. larry's the youngest of three kids. the family settles in central louisiana, where william's artistic skills lead him to a job. >> he started out as a draftsman for the mobile-home industry. he just had an incredible talent for artistry.
>> did you inherit the artistry gene? >> no. >> when he's not buried behind a stack of blueprints, william loves to travel the country. >> he took us to national parks all over the united states. but it seemed like we always ended up at a naval air base or some military museum. >> then, in the mid-1970s, a trip to vicksburg, mississippi, sparks william's creative passion. more than 100 years earlier, the u.s.s. cairo was the first vessel ever to be sunk using a mine remotely detonated by hand. william's there to watch it go on display after being raised from the yazoo river. >> he started getting involved with the museum people over there, and next thing i knew, he was building ships. >> the 46-year-old father of three starts with his own
miniature version of the massive cairo -- piece by piece, out of pine and cypress. the smokestacks... the deck boards... cannons... even miniature ropes. it takes two months. >> you know, he would make the little doors and the little lifeboats. and then he would paint them and he would drive little nails into the deck. >> it's amazing. >> he just went haywire with it, really. >> over the next decade, william builds a civil war flotilla. there's the c.s.s. virginia, the first steam-powered ironclad warship, built by the confederate navy. the u.s.s. neosho, a union vessel with a steam-powered front-gun turret that can spin 360 degrees. that's some firepower. and the c.s.s. calhoun, a civilian steamer converted into a 500-ton side-wheel gunboat.
all with the precision you'd expect from a career draftsman. >> before he built a ship, he'd study it. he had blueprints from the smithsonian institution, and if they didn't exist, he would draw his own set of blueprints. >> down to the finest detail. >> he was a fanatic about it. >> was your mom applauding his efforts? >> not really. i recall her not being all that thrilled with dad spending a lot of time in the shop. >> but he wouldn't stop. >> oh, no. it became an obsession. >> by the time william retires in the early 1980s, he's churned out more than 500 ships. that's when the hobbyist decides to share his fleet with the world. he built an annex on his property, next to the family home in arcadia, louisiana -- his very own civil war naval museum. let's be honest -- most people would build, maybe, an addition to their house.
your dad told your mom, "i'm gonna build a museum for the ships." >> you know, for lack of better terms, i think he didn't really listen to much about what my mother had to say. >> william doesn't even let his son touch his delicate crafts. not that larry's interested. >> as a young man, i didn't pay as much attention to what he was doing. when you're 16 or 17 years old, the last thing you're worried about is your dad up in a building, building models. >> but outside the family, word is spreading about a reclusive shipwright in the woods of louisiana. they call from around the country and around the world. civil war buffs and private collectors not only want to see his work, they wan was this profit-making for him? that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. the c.s.s. virginia was a confederate ironclad warship also known by what name?
which is why comcast business delivers consistent network performance and speed across all your locations. fast connections everywhere. that's how you outmaneuver. >> so, by what name was the c.s.s. virginia also known? the answer is "b" -- the merrimack. it was a union ship salvaged by the south and rechristened as the virginia. in 1862, it faced off against the monitor in the first duel
between ironclad ships. >> by the 1990s, william atteridge has built an armada of nearly 1,000 model ships. visitors from around the world travel to his makeshift museum in the louisiana woods to see his amazing craft. did he charge people to come in? >> his museum was donations only. they would drop a couple dollars in a bucket and he'd let them go through there and he would talk them to death. and, finally, it was almost like, "okay, we got to go." [ chuckles ] >> one of his early patrons -- louisiana state university historian gary joiner. do you remember the first time walking in? >> absolutely. the first thing i saw was this giant model of the c.s.s. arkansas. and i said, "you know what you're doing." >> was he a teacher? >> he was to me. he was a historical sponge. >> gary commissions william to
build ships to use as visual aids in his classes -- 17 in all. what'd you pay? >> i think i paid $175 at the time. >> was it a steal? >> oh, yes. without a doubt. he was just that good. later, even museums commissioned ships from william. was this profit-making for him? >> he didn't make enough. my dad was a very kind soul, and he did a lot of things out of the goodness of his heart. >> what would it cost for a ship? >> back in those days, he might get $300 or $400. and he would spend two months building it. >> year after year, he churns out models. then, in 2005, william is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. larry has long since moved out. he now owns a successful ambulance company two hours away. but he starts making the trip
back and forth every week. it's the most treasured time he ever spends with his father. >> during that period of time is when he taught me the most about these ships and about him. the realization came forward that we didn't really know each other. >> do you wish you had spent more time with him? >> absolutely. we loved each other, but we just didn't have that closeness. >> william atteridge outlives his prognosis by three years. he dies in 2008 at age 78. were you with him when he passed? >> yes. it was just me and him. i just told him i loved him and, you know, kissed him on the forehead, which is probably the first time i ever remember kissing my father. >> and with that, larry comes into his strange inheritance -- more than 100 ships, the blueprints he built them from, as well as the records of another 1,000-plus models he's sold through the years --
an archive of the hobby his father elevated to an art form. have you had this collection appraised since you inherited it? >> i did when he first passed away. and i think it was around $130,000. >> would you sell? >> not for $130,000. the emotional attachment, to me, is worth a great deal more than that. >> but things can change. and, as you will see, they do for larry -- more than once. how would you describe this inheritance? >> it was a little bit more of a journey than i was prepared for. >> that's next. >> here's another quiz question for you. extra credit if you can name the war during which it was deployed.
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>> the answer is "a" -- the turtle. its inventor tried and failed to attach a time bomb to the hull of a british ship in new york harbor during the revolutionary war. >> it's 2008, and larry atteridge has just been left his strange inheritance -- more than 100 scale-model civil war ships built by his father, stacks of blueprints, and a request. do you remember your last conversation? >> what he asked me to do was to take the collection, to show them in his honor, and keep them together. >> so you're guarding the fleet? >> yes. [ chuckles ]
>> with his father's ship collection more than two hours away from his home, larry decides to move them to a closer port. a bed-and-breakfast in nearby natchitoches agrees to put them on display. these are so delicate. how do you even go about moving that many ships? >> i rented a 26-foot u-haul truck. we got furniture tarps and put them on the floor. >> larry's wife, pam, lends a hand -- with some hesitation. >> when his father was alive, he did not want larry to touch them, and i can only imagine what he's thinking now. >> the ships go on exhibit in natchitoches, with larry serving as the curator. but just a year later, with his ambulance business growing, larry decides he no longer has time to manage them. >> all of a sudden, i realize that i have to move these again. >> he reaches out to the state of louisiana, and they're on board.
for a second time, larry carefully packs up his sprawling and delicate fleet. this time, he ships it to a state museum in tioga, louisiana. five years pass. then, larry receives an alarming phone call. the museum's unstable -- literally. how unstable? >> it was about to cave in. then it became kind of a panic situation for us. >> for a third time, larry scrambles to relocate his strange inheritance. he decides just to bring it home, where the boats will be absolutely safe -- he thinks. then, early one morning... >> my stepdaughter came into the room and said, "hey, the house is on fire." >> the whole house, within five minutes, was in flames. >> in the 40 minutes it takes the fire department to reach their rural location, the atteridge house burns to the ground.
>> we lost everything. >> so, you escaped with your family, but the ships? >> they were still in the museum. >> thankfully, there'd been a delay in delivering custom-built cabinets to the house, and the models stayed put. wow. someone was protecting them. >> it was just by the grace of god, i think. >> unfortunately, most of his father's sale records for ships that he had sold were in the house and are lost in the fire. have you ever had a moment where you've said, "i do need to sell them"? >> yes. it's crossed my mind. >> we know one potential buyer -- our michael wall, founder of the american marine model gallery in gloucester, massachusetts. when larry called us, we called michael. >> i've never seen a collection like this, especially of civil war models. >> so, what's involved in appraising a collection like this? >> well, for example, i chose
this model of arkansas because it's probably one of the biggest ones in the collection. i love it because of the artistry that is done with the finish. i feel something like this would probably be worth between $5,500 and $6,500. >> wow. [ cash register dings ] >> the appraiser says william atteridge's model of the u.s.s. cairo would also go for about $6k. and larry has about 100 more. michael, what do you sense could happen if larry were willing to part with the collection? >> basically, i broke down the collection in three parts -- the high-end, the mid-range models, and then the low-range. the total was $279,000. >> okay. [ chuckles ] >> quite a collection. >> so, i know you've said, larry, that you'd never seriously considered selling, but now that you hear this...
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>> now back to "strange inheritance." >> larry atteridge is weighing his options after receiving an appraisal of $279,000 for more than 100 civil war model ships that his late father painstakingly built over a lifetime. so, larry, how does that compare to the appraisal you got years ago? >> well, it's a big surprise. it's much higher than it was. >> well, your dad did great work, and i think it's just a testament to what he put into this. >> in fact, when you consider that larry's father sold at least 10 times as many models as he kept, there may well be $2- to $3 million of william atteridge originals floating around the world.
pretty impressive for just an old guy with a hobby. so, larry, i know you've never seriously considered selling, but now that you've heard this, do you change your mind? >> [ inhales deeply ] well, got a lot to think about. um... i believe i'll hold on to them, keep them in the family and... >> great. >> ...in the bloodline. >> it's a lot of money. you couldn't use the money? >> obviously, we could use it, but we're not in that situation, so... >> yeah. >> ...we'll just hold on to them and keep them in dad's honor. >> and, finally, in a permanent home. ♪ >> well, here they are. >> very, very impressive. ♪ yep. those display cases finally arrived. so, inside their new house, larry and pam have created a mini-maritime museum --
a contemporary version of the one william had out in the woods all those years ago. minus, of course, the workshop, the donation bucket, and the model-ship builder -- ready, as his son recalls, to talk his visitors to death. do you see your father in these? >> absolutely. you know, i wake up every day, and there they are. and i think it's my long-lasting relationship with my father. you know, if it wasn't for that, i don't know that i'd have anything. >> in that house fire, larry lost records from about 1,000 of his dad's models. well, he's hoping you can help him locate those missing ships. if you look closely at bill atteridge's work, you can sometimes find a sticker with his name, like this one here. and if you see one, e-mail me a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org.
thanks so much for watching. and remember -- you can't take it with you. goodnight from new york. >> i am here at freedom fest the world's biggest gathering of people and tonight's topic is the american dream still achievable? the founder of whole foods the head of the restaurant chain carl's, jr.. and the man who helped to build modern lowe's vegas and made a couple billion dollars to read it. our topic, what happened to the american dream? that is our show.